- How do I order something?
- Where's my order?
- I have a store. How do I order your titles wholesale?
- How do your t-shirts fit? Where do they come from?
- How do I return/exchange something?
- Will you distribute my book or zine?
- I bought an eBook. How do I receive it?
I want to be involved!
I want to know about Microcosm
- How do I obtain licensing or translation rights to one of your titles?
- Why the focus on zines?
- I am from the press or want to help promote Microcosm. Where can I find press about Microcosm, press releases, photos, or hi-res book covers?
- Why do you offer sliding scale pricing?
Don't see your question above? Send us a note
How do I submit manuscripts for publication by Microcosm?
Microcosm specializes in nonfiction DIY (Do-It-Yourself) goods that focus on the reader and teach self-empowerment.
We publish books from people with both expertise and lived experience that fit in the following subject areas:
- Magick How to (Witchcraft, Paganism, Herbalism, and the like)
- The Good Life (DIY, how-to, self-care, hands-on skills—anything from how to make or do something to parenting to )
- Scene History (what made a time and place into a unique climate for creativity, social justice, gender, sexuality, struggle, or a different way of thinking?)
- Building the Bicycle Revolution (nonfiction about the promise of the bicycle to change society with a clear, new perspective on a familiar topic)
- Queer Erotica ("romance" with trans and/or queer representation)
- Travel guides (what makes a place truly special without costing a lot of money?)
- Punx (the hidden stories of the musical style that became a social movement to fix shit up)
- Comics Journalism (book-length nonfiction graphic novels that tell powerful stories. We do not pair writers with illustrators but we do perform full developmental edits for books that we publish. We'll sign a book based on your idea and portfolio alone and can help you workshop it together.)
- Gift (humor, animals, fun but educational)
We look for strong visuals and a strong leftist orientation—further left than the Democratic party. One reviewer said that we make "Castro look right wing." In many ways, he was.
We do not publish books that would primarily be described as poetry, fiction, cookbooks, travel stories, or memoirs, unless the work is more substantially about a nonfiction topic than the author's life and experiences. If your book contains more than 20% personal stories, we are not the right publisher for you.
We are especially seeking books right now about magickal how to/witchcraft, dogs, bicycling, genderqueer romance, witchcraft, comics journalism, sustainable DIY projects, parenting (especially for Black, POC, and queer people), reproductive rights, mental health, sexual health, guidebooks, nature, survival, and contributions to the Self Care Healthcare and Scene History series. Our readers respond especially strongly to small, heartfelt books about self care or a narrow interest of a self-empowering nature. We love books that help us discover interest in a new topic. Books with illustrations, photographs, or other strong graphic elements are strongly encouraged.
If a book does not have a reachable audience of at least 5,000 people or if the subject matter does not require 100 pages, we'd suggest submitting your proposal for a zine (and you would not be required to list comp titles).
To pitch a book to Microcosm, click on "Don't see your question above? Send us a note" at the top of this page, choose "I'd like to subject a manuscript," and tell us, in five seconds, what benefit(s) your book offers to a reader, tell us why you want to write this book, and how it is unique from similar titles. Think about why people would buy a book like yours and what your book would do particularly well for the kind of readers who need it. Knowing why you want to write it and your honest goals will help you make decisions and us to know if we can help you get there. Please include a sentence about your own expertise and lived experiences that make you suited to create this work.
Don't tell us a summary of your narrative (that comes later) or what you or your friends like about your book. Tell us the practical and emotional payoff for someone reading your book that makes it distinct from others on the shelf.
This approach will tell you (and us!) if your book is something that there is room for. And if there is, it is publishable!
In order to see if we are a good publisher for you, peruse our catalog and identify three similar titles that we've published in the last two years. If you can do that, it's probably a good fit. If you can't do that, we probably aren't the best place for you, but we wish you the best of luck and might be able to refer you elsewhere!
If you are Black, Indigenous, a person of color, transgender, or disabled, you are particularly encouraged to submit, as is anyone whose experiences are not well represented in the publishing world.
It is important to follow our submission guidelines to the letter and to do a comprehensive title analysis, looking for all the other books that would be on the same shelf with yours. If you don't believe there are other books on the shelf, look harder. If there truly are not, then we cannot sell your book. Following our guidelines tells us that you can work with a team and that you've investigated and developed your book properly, just like we have to when pitching it to our distributors and reviewers.
Most importantly, be honest and substantial! We have heard every hollow and meaningless line in a book pitch. We want you to think about your proposal and deliver something that is uniquely your own after looking at everything that is out there. (Spoiler alert: There are a LOT of books out there.)
Here are two sample (successful) pitches:
Yo, Miss is a graphic novel about a year at a second chance high school in New York City. It is similar to On The Books, Mark Twain Was Right, and Invincible Summer and is about Ms. Wilde's classroom at John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy. Check out yomiss.com.
Street Journalist can be read in an hour and equips you to go out and cover breaking news or a feature on multiple platforms. Similar titles include Action!, Make Your Place and DIY Screenprinting.
In summary, to pitch a book to us, use the contact form linked at the top of this page to:
1) Tell us, in five seconds, what benefit(s) your book offers to a reader and how it's unique from similar titles
2) A list of three similar titles we've recently published
3) Explain your expertise and lived experience that make you qualified to write this book.
4) Do not send your manuscript. Do not send any other information unless you've recently been featured in national media or have over 10,000 social media followers or have unique qualifications to write this book.
5) Specify if you would like pitch feedback.
How we evaluate book submissions:
There are 8,000 new books published every day so it's vital to know what's out there and be clear about what the heart of your book is. This is called title development. Good title development questions include: What is the thesis of your book that no other books are discussing and no one is thinking about in the same way? How do readers benefit by reading this book? Why would someone buy this book? How many books have you purchased in the past year that are similar to the way that you have envisioned this one? How is your book distinct from similar books that are in print? Have you visited your local bookstores and surveyed their selection? Have you researched similar books on Amazon?
When reviewing a submission, we consider the following criteria. (You don't need to answer these questions, but you may find them helpful to think about as you develop your project idea.)
1) How does this title teach self-empowerment? Does it fit Microcosm’s mission?
2) Will this title consistently exceed minimum sales benchmarks over more than five years? (1,000 copies in first year, halving for each consecutive year)
3) How is this title notably different from existing work on the same shelf?
4) Do we expect this title to turn a profit for Microcosm and pay royalties to the author?
5) Is this work of particular merit? Why?
6) Is there an identifiable and reachable audience of at least 5,000 people who will buy at least 3,000 books?
7) Does this book challenge popular narratives about the subject?
8) Will the author be cooperative and hardworking towards mutual goals?
9) Have the competitive titles sold at least 3,000 copies in Bookscan?
10) Does the market allow U.S. based printing and production costs at competitive pricing to the comps?
11) Does this book fit our core competencies? Does it fit on a shelf where Microcosm has existing recent work and is a known entity?
We do not always respond to submissions that fall outside of our guidelines.
Occasionally, book ideas are submitted that fit most of our criteria but it isn't clear if we can sell enough to justify publication. In some of these cases, we may ask to work with you to publish your idea as a zine or series of zines. Our bestselling zines typically become books, and it's a win-win-win situation for the author, the publisher, and the readers.
If we are not able to publish your work, it's not a rejection of you, the author, or even the quality of the work. It is likely that it just falls outside of our editorial guidelines and we know from experience that we are not the right place to be able to get your work to an audience. Best of luck to you and keep on doing what matters to you!↑
What happens when I spend a dollar at Microcosm?
As an independent company, Microcosm doesn't have to please owners or shareholders. Our owners don't keep any profits besides wages. We have no financial backers, parent company, investors, or shadow partners. All of our money is raised the old fashioned way—by people who support our books!
Every dollar goes back into the organization and new publishing projects. We choose not to be a 501(c)3 because such an organization requires outside management. Publishing is not a profitable industry so we've needed to be clever to support our staff and operate sustainably. Our staff start at $14 per hour (which is alarmingly higher than the average starting wage in publishing) and all financial surplus is distributed into staff wages based on cost of living and merit.
This project was built on the hard work of everyone who orders from us, volunteered here, or stuck around for gainful employment. We wouldn't be where we are today without you.↑
How do I volunteer or intern with Microcosm?
We are excited that you want to get involved! There's plenty of work to do! If you're interested in volunteering or interning, fill out this form and email it to internship at microcosmpublishing daht com!
Application deadlines are seasonal. Submit by March 1st for the Summer Internship (May-August). Submit by July 1st for the Fall Internship (Sept-Dec). Submit by November 1st for the Winter Internship (Jan- April). We ask for a minimum of 240 hours, with at least 15 hours per week for an internship commitment.
Our internships include a paid stipend of $500, $250 of which we give upon the halfway point of the 16 weeks, and the other $250 upon completion of the 16 weeks. We take on 2-3 interns per season.
We try to leave you with a comprehensive idea of what it's like to work in publishing.
While editing is what 99% of our applicants say they see themselves doing, there is often some confusion about what that actually involves. Our editing priorities are:
- 10% making sure that each new book occupies a vacant niche
- 45% title development (using the cover and title to tell the reader what need the book fulfills)
- 25% data management (making sure all of the images, numbers, and details are correct)
- 20% of making sure that the book fulfills its promises and doesn't stray too far from the point
Our interns typically divide their time like this:
- 25% doing publicity research (identifying new outlets that would be interested in promoting our titles and finding contact information)
- 25% doing marketing assistance (brainstorming, assembling mailings, critical thinking about our titles, fact checking, research, and populating spreadsheets)
- 25% doing line editing, proofreading, and reporting editorial feedback
- 25% doing sales research and spreadsheet population from researching new places that we could sell our books to directly.
* If an intern is fluent in The Adobe Suite, they can perform production and layout/design work as well. If an intern has an interest or skill with photography, they can be responsible for product photos and postproduction work as well. We are not a printer and do not have printing equipment. Our internships do not involve the physical printing of books.
In our opinion, the only three job skills that you need in publishing are:
- 40% willingness to work hard
- 10% a willingness to follow directions
- 50% critical/analytical thinking skills and common sense.
Some of these can be learned but none of them require a specific kind of education.
Working in this capacity creates a reciprocal relationship between us, offering education and fun in a very passionate field full of fascinating politics in a more intimate (and hopefully interesting!) environment. This internship provides the opportunity to interact with Microcosm's staff, attend editorial meetings, and ask questions in a free and open environment to learn what it's like to work in publishing.
Bonus skills: bookstore experience, attention to detail, basic knowledge of online media for research, Adobe Suite familiarity.
Application deadlines are seasonal. Submit by March 1st for the Summer Internship (May-August). Submit by July 1st for the Fall Internship (Sept-Dec). Submit by November 1st for the Winter Internship (Jan- April). We ask for a minimum of 240 hours, with at least 15 hours per week for an internship commitment. We try to leave you with a comprehensive idea of what it's like to work in publishing.
80% of our staff members are hired after internships. When we have a job opening that we cannot fill with a former intern, we post it publicly on our blog. We do not accept resumes for unannounced job postings. Thanks!↑
How do I order something?
Click on the "Add to cart" button next to the items you want to order. You may need to choose an option from a drop-down menu first. The online ordering system calculates your total (and calculates actual shipping costs) for the order. We ship anywhere in the world. You can also print and fill out our Microcosm order form. We accept credit card, PayPal, mailed-in check, money order, or well-concealed cash.
Consider signing up for a My Microcosm account as it will organize all of your information in one place! Save your login info so that you can order with it in the future. If you order something that we're out of, we will credit your account—and when you order again, the credit will be automatically applied!
Thank you for ordering!↑
Where's my order?
When contacting us about an order, please wait at least two weeks after your order has been shipped to give it time to arrive. If it hasn't arrived, please contact us with your name and reference code (a combination of numbers and letters, like 926db). For international orders, please wait one month after your order is sent—generally all we can tell you is when it was shipped!
Also, please provide an accurate email address in check-out. We email you shipping emails and tracking numbers for tracking your package through the Postal Service.
Most orders are mailed out the day after they are received. However, we may hold an order when we know that new copies of an out-of-stock item will arrive within one week. While we do our best to keep the site updated, items are occassionally simultaneously sold in our store or at an event, so please list alternates!
Orders sometimes get lost in the mail. If your domestic order is lost by the delivery carrier, we will immediately re-ship a new one. If the carrier is showing that your order was delivered but the package was stolen or has mysteriously not arrived, we will make our best efforts to file a claim but cannot be responsible.↑
I have a store. How do I order your titles wholesale?
Microcosm is a distributor as well as a publisher, and we offer a broad catalog of books and zines from other publishers. Everything in our catalog is available at wholesale pricing.
As of January 1, 2019 we proudly self-distribute our books! Our minimum wholesale order is $100. To find wholesale prices for items, go to any product page (or to your cart) and click on the blue "wholesale" button on the right. If you sign up for a My Microcosm account, it will keep track of your purchase history and invoices.
If you order something that we're out of, we will credit your account—and when you order again, the credit will be automatically applied.
After two pre-paid orders, we can offer Net-30 terms (in which you pay 30 days after placing the order). Please specify "Net-30" in the order notes. Items are generally not returnable unless they are damaged or arrangements were made ahead of time.
If you're in Europe, we are distributed by Turnaround. In Canda, we are distributed by UTP and sold by Manda. We are sold by New South in Australia and Global Publisher Services in Asia, India, Africa, and South America.
If you order 20 or more of our titles, you can request one of our free display racks (pictured to the right) to put on your counter. Just include it in your order notes. You can also purchase a pre-pack selection of a certain kind of titles, like the Urban Homesteader display pack, Henry & Glenn's Endless Love pack, Bike Shop pack, Record Store pack, or the Cookbook pack. If you're touring with a band and want to add books and zines to your merch table, we also have a pack for you.
How do your t-shirts fit? Where do they come from?
They are "fitted", so they fit around the contours of your body and not like a "box" shirt. If you don't want your shirt to be tight, you should buy it a size larger than normal.
Our X-Small size is a Women's Medium shirt size and typically has the "Medium" crossed out and an XS written on the tag.↑
How do I return/exchange something?
Retail orders: We only accept exchanges if we send the wrong item or if a T-shirt does not fit properly. If we send you the wrong item or an item is missing from your package, get in touch and we'll fix our mistake. If you are exchanging a t-shirt because you ordered the wrong size, ship it back to us and include a $2 handling fee plus the cost of shipping you a new one. Due to piracy concerns, we cannot accept returns on eBooks or digital products.
Wholesale orders: We accept returns of only books that we publish for one year, as long as the book is in good/resellable condition and still in print. Once a book is listed as out of print through conventional channels, returns will only be accepted for six months. If an order arrives with items missing or damaged, notices for replacement or credit must be made within 30 days.↑
Will you distribute my book or zine?
We enjoy hand-done and unique historical, educational, instructive, food-related, and bicycling-related zines. We like zines with information that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere and to learn about things we didn't know we were interested in. Very few of our zines could be considered traditional "magazines." If you are unsure, take a look around our catalog and see if your work would fit in! We sell items through retail orders, at conferences, on tour, and wholesale to stores and distributors.
We do not always respond to submissions that fall outside of our guidelines. Sorry about that! There's no lack of love, just lack of time. Sample zines sent to us for distro that don't fit our focus will be forwarded to be reviewed in Xerography Debt. If you want to submit your zine for review in Xerography Debt, send to: Davida Gypsy Breier / PO Box 347 / Glen Arm, MD 21057
If we are unable to pick up your book or zine, it's not a rejection of you the author or even the quality of the work. We are simply not always the best way to reach the right audience for your work. Fortunately, there are more options out there all the time.
If you are interested in Microcosm editing, designing, printing, and distributing your zine, you want to submit to us for publication. All of the above list of topics still apply and if a subject does not have a reachable audience of at least 5,000 people or if the subject matter does not require 100 pages, it almost always works better as a zine. Then we can use that feedback to develop the content with you into a book over a few years.
To pitch a zine to Microcosm, use the "Don't see your question above? Send us a note" at the top of this page, choose "I'd like to subject a manuscript" and tell us, in five seconds, what zine is about and what benefit(s) it offers to a reader
I bought an eBook. How do I receive it?
We are working on automating our system. In the meantime, one of us will email you your eBook within 24 hours of purchase.↑
I want to be involved!
How can I help?
BFF Program: Like a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) share that gives farmers a guarantee before their crops are harvested, our BFF's help us by paying upfront for their zines and books! Publishing our titles means we pay the printing costs before any books are sold, so every BFF gives us peace of mind. Plus, it's awesome for people to get mailed something new every month of the subscription! Check out the BFF program here.
Sliding Scale Pricing: The standby of DIY venues, museums, and house shows—pay-what-you-can prices allow people to give within their means. We don't know of any other publisher that does this, but Microcosm offers sliding scale prices for titles we produce! We try to put stuff out for cheap, so extra dollars go a long way to keep our pricing sustainable.
Back our projects: We run frequent Kickstarter projects to help fund and get the word out about our books. Backing and sharing these helps us a lot. Or you can always pre-order the same books directly from us on our website, which is great, too.
Getting the Word Out: Unlike major book publishers, we don't have a large budget for promotions and we rarely pay for ads. In keeping our books cheap, we almost forgo the luxury of having a promotions department entirely! The cheapest way to help us out is telling folks about Microcosm and distributing catalogs. You can also stay up on what we're doing by subscribing to our monthly e-newsletter.
We don't write grants or push tax-free contributions, so we instead keep things at the grassroots level. We sincerely appreciate any help you all can throw down in any way! To find out more about how our money is spent, check out our yearly financial reports.↑
I want to know about Microcosm
How do I obtain licensing or translation rights to one of your titles?
We have rights available in most countries and languages for most of our titles. We employ rights and subrights agents and can share PDF or paper book samples to interested publishers or agents. If you are interested in licensing rights for some of our title(s), please get in touch!↑
Why the focus on zines?
To borrow the words of Chris Landry, "Zines are the best expression of the d.i.y. ethics of the punk rock subculture. While bands can be co-opted into the mainstream and the music scene continues to be male-dominated and increasingly a-political, zines have been keeping it true. Zines take the profit and fame motive out of artistic expression and focus on communication, expression and community for their own sake. Zines are the one truly democratic art form. Zine writers are the most important writers in the world."
To borrow the words of Aaron Cometbus, "You can put out a fanzine and you can reach all kinds of fuckin' people for really cheap and you can do a novel and there's no way that you can get to as many people in the same way. Fanzines are, in a way, the perfect form. You can get your fanzine, if you hustle, to bookstores, record stores, maybe even magazine stands. I've had it on sale at toy stores. You can sell it at shows. It's not at all limited to shows and to punk culture. You can sell a book to a record store but it doesn't cross formats in the same way. So in many ways I think that the fanzine is the ultimate and better than a regular magazine too. It really can appeal to all kinds of people."
I am from the press or want to help promote Microcosm. Where can I find press about Microcosm, press releases, photos, or hi-res book covers?
Why do you offer sliding scale pricing?
Part of Microcosm's mission statement is to empower people through the information and resources we provide. One obvious way that people are disenfranchised is by a lack of money. Some people exist on a small budget to focus on activities that they deem vital—like radical activism. Others are caught up in institutional poverty and have no choice in the matter. As a way of catering to these circumstances, we've always offered our titles at the lowest prices possible. And over the last fifteen years we've had many of our own financial hardships. Many people have suggested that since our prices are so low, raising our prices would be an obvious way to solve our problem. So we've come to a compromise—the sliding scale pricing structure. You determine what you can afford to pay for the items that we publish. As a result, we are able to pay royalties to our authors, offer lower prices to those who cannot afford as much as they'd like, and continue to serve our mission statement of making new materials available at the lowest prices possible.↑
Your website isn't working. I think there are bugs!
Our website is tested and coded for Mozilla Firefox, which we recommend for web browsing. It's faster, less buggy, safer, and more frequently updated than Internet Explorer. Our site should also work well on Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Opera.
New bugs do sometimes appear on our site and it's best to report them. Nate, our web genius, will thank you. He hates bugs and loves clean, well-functioning things.↑